The Year in Books: 2018
Our annual review of new books by local authors & illustrators.
As the days grow shorter, diving into the pile of books created by the talented writers in the hills over the past year is always a special treat – and this year is no different. There’s something for everyone, from Helen Notzl’s fascinating memoir of life in Cold War Prague to Peggy Herring’s mix of historical fact and fiction in the tale of a young Russian woman learning to live among North America’s Indigenous peoples. There’s a new book of poetry by Max Layton and life lessons on a motorcycle by Liz Jansen. David Shoalts dishes on the backroom drama that took place when the NHL changed broadcasters, while Brenda Chabot investigates what went wrong in a series of airline accidents. And among the choices for the younger set are Robert Hill’s imaginings about a teen facing the end of the world and Shaista Pabla’s redefinition of the rules for princesses.
Thank you, authors, for the bumper crop of books that will keep us reading through the winter ahead!
A True Story of First Love, Sudden Death and Long Shadows
by James FitzGerald
The era is the late 1960s. Unbeknownst to each other, James FitzGerald and George Orr are leading similar lives. Both were born into prosperous Toronto families; both feel unloved by distant, alcohol-soaked parents; and both were forced to attend Upper Canada College, which is rife with sexual and physical abuse. Then both fall madly in love with Sally, a free-spirited young woman, and both are shattered when she is killed in a freak accident. Their lives are forever changed.
FitzGerald’s memoir is a poignant coming-of-age tale filled with bizarre coincidences and an inexplicable case of premonition.
Journalist James FitzGerald is the author of Old Boys: The Powerful Legacy of Upper Canada College, as well as What Disturbs Our Blood: A Son’s Quest to Redeem the Past, which won the Writers’ Trust Prize for Nonfiction. He summers at a cabin in Belfountain. (Random House Canada, $32.95)
Hockey Fight in Canada
The Big Media Faceoff over the NHL
by David Shoalts
In late 2013 the NHL threw over the CBC and forged a $5.2 billion, 12-year deal with Rogers Communications to become its exclusive national broadcaster. Elaborate sets were constructed. Flashy graphics designed. Young, hip commentators were hired. It looked perfect on paper, so why did it fail so spectacularly when put into play? Hockey Fight in Canada delves into the backroom brawls of the media giants as they fought to control the broadcasting of Canada’s game.
David Shoalts, who lives in Bolton, is a veteran sportswriter who spent his career covering the NHL and the Toronto Maple Leafs for The Globe and Mail. (Douglas & McIntyre, $22.95)
by Marina L. Reed
Grand maple trees line Primrose Street. They are perfect in their own way, providing shade and beauty to the people who live there. But below the surface, under the soil, lies another truth. Close-knit roots twist in on themselves, restricted by events long in the past. And so it goes with the residents of the street – hidden lives played out behind closed doors and poisonous secrets that threaten the well-being of the entire community.
Marina L. Reed grew up on Mono’s famed Yellow Briar farm, setting of the eponymous 1930s bestseller by John Mitchell, aka Patrick Slater. She now lives in Orangeville. (Blue Moon, $17.95)
Long Journey Home
A Prague Love Story
by Helen Notzl
Helen Notzl was a tender four years old when she and her family made a harrowing escape from Czechoslovakia after the Communist coup of 1948. Although Notzl grew up in the freedom and comfort of Canada, she finds herself drawn to the historically rich culture of Prague.
Long Journey Home is a remarkable memoir filled with political intrigue, family secrets, passionate revolutionaries and, at the centre of it all, a woman torn between two countries and the love of two men.
Helen Notzl is the founder of Toronto’s Pauline McGibbon Cultural Centre, a showcase for women in the arts. She divides her time between her home in Caledon and an apartment in Prague. (FriesenPress, $24.95)
Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic
A Comedian’s Guide to Life on the Spectrum
by Michael McCreary
“I was diagnosed with autism at age five,” says Michael McCreary. “I wasn’t diagnosed as a comedian until much later, though I always loved to perform and make people laugh.” Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic is part memoir, part guide to life for the socially awkward struggling to find their tribe. From his “Obligatory Origin Story” of diagnosis and dodging bullies at school to “Portrait of the Aspie as a Young Man,” which describes the terror of his first stand-up gig at age 14, to his cross-country tour and performance at Massey Hall, McCreary provides inspiration and chuckles a-plenty for everyone.
Michael McCreary, who grew up in Orangeville, now lives in Toronto. Funny, You Don’t Look Autistic will be available in March 2019. He was a recipient of the 25 Under 25 Award presented by this magazine, Theatre Orangeville and Museum of Dufferin. (Annick Press, $14.95)
Smells Like Heaven
by Sally Cooper
The linked short stories in Smells Like Heaven explore the lives of a tight-knit group of young people who grew up, escaped from, and ultimately returned to life in small-town Ontario. Cooper peels away the layers of “ordinary” to reveal the bloody, beating heart within us all and examines how even the most apparently insignificant choices we make can, for good or ill, shape the rest of our lives.
Sally Cooper grew up in Inglewood. She now lives in Hamilton where she works as a senior editor for the Hamilton Review of Books. Her two previous novels, Tell Everything and Love Object, earned critical acclaim. (ARP Books, $18.95)
Anna, Like Thunder
by Peggy Herring
The year is 1808. After the wreck of the St. Nikolai, a Russian trading ship, its crew and 18-year-old Anna Petrovna Bulygina, wife of the vessel’s commander, are forced to live among the Indigenous peoples of Washington State’s Olympic Peninsula. Before long, Anna comes to question her country’s intentions in the land where she finds herself, as well as the actions, and often violent reactions, of her own people.
Herring weaves fact and fiction in this fascinating page turner.
Peggy Herring grew up just outside Tottenham. She now lives in Victoria, British Columbia. (Brindle & Glass, $22)
Flight Attendants Lost in the Line of Duty
Factual Accounts of Flight Attendant Actions in Life Threatening Incidents
by B. Elizabeth Chabot
Sky waitress? Not even close. Flight attendants are highly trained first responders who, in times of crisis, risk their lives in the line of duty. B. Elizabeth (aka Brenda) Chabot brings a career’s worth of experience as a flight attendant, trainer and member of a critical incident stress team to educating the public on the importance of air regulations and respecting the flight crew. Using case studies of real crashes, Chabot compiles a minute-by-minute look at life-and-death events. Who should read this book? In this age of entitlement, when passengers waste precious time retrieving possessions or, unbelievably, filming the turmoil on cellphones instead of leaving burning planes, Flight Attendants Lost is a must-read for all air travellers. (FriesenPress, $21.95)
Hamilton and Area Hikes
Loops & Lattes
by Nicola Ross and Amy Darrell
With more than 100 waterfalls within its city limits, Hamilton (aka Steeltown) is arguably the waterfall capital of the world. Amy Darrell teams up with Nicola Ross to map out 34 looping routes for hikers to explore the scenic wonders, interesting villages and best spots for a post-hike treat in Hamilton and the County of Brant.
Amy Darrell, who grew up in the shadow of the Devil’s Pulpit, is active in creating strong, sustainable communities. Caledon’s Nicola Ross is an environmental activist and writer. Her other wildly successful Loops & Lattes guides cover Caledon, Halton and Dufferin. (Woodrising Consulting, $27.95)
by Max Layton
“I like like because it links/The most unlikely things,” writes Max Layton in his latest collection of poetry. And what is poetry – or life, for that matter – but a simile-heavy process of comparing the now to what has gone before? Layton focuses on issues of aging, loss, world events and nature, while striving to find truth and beauty in every single like.
Writer and educator Max Layton lives in Cheltenham. His literary credits include a novel, a short story collection, four CDs and two poetry collections. (Guernica Editions, $20)
by A.G. Pasquella
What is it they say about the mob? Every time you think you’re out, they drag you back in. Jack Palace, having paid his dues to society and determined to go straight, doesn’t even make it off prison property before his past comes knocking. He owes a debt to the son of a mob boss. Next thing he knows, the bodies are dropping and he’s pulled into a war that threatens everyone he loves.
A.G. Pasquella is a writer and musician who grew up in Mulmur and now lives in Toronto. (Dundurn, $19.99)
by Robert Hill
When the northern lights appear in California skies, people are awed and bewildered. When cars stop running, computers fry and planes fall out of the sky, 13-year-old Kyle knows nothing in his life will ever be the same. Struggling to survive alongside his parents and little sister, Kyle learns the value of everything he once took for granted while finding the courage to prove himself to his father.
Written for midteens, Alone Together is a thrilling story of a family dealing with crisis. Robert Hill grew up in Orangeville and now lives in California. (New Diamond Publishing, $16.95)
These People and Other Stories
by Anthony Carnovale
Uncomfortable truths are brought to the fore in Anthony Carnovale’s artfully crafted stories of students and teachers at a Brampton high school. In razor-sharp prose, Carnovale exposes the inner lives of a drug dealer, an Internet queen, the tough kid hiding a broken soul, the young teacher unsure of her role, and her colleague, a man so jaded, he has become toxic.
Orangeville resident Anthony Carnovale is a writer, teacher and columnist for the Orangeville Citizen. He is also the cofounder and editor of Extra Pulp Zine and Cyclotron, a literary arts program that works with marginalized youth. (Anthony Carnovale, $20)
A Story Collection
by Z Proudlock
Want to eavesdrop on the gossip in the staff lounge? Zlata Proudlock and many of her former teaching colleagues speak their minds about why they became teachers, their best and worst experiences in the classroom, their tips for young teachers and much more. Included are pages for teacher-readers to write about their own experiences and an invitation to add their voices to the growing Teacher Talk website.
Z Proudlock was a teacher and department head for more than 35 years. She lives in Orangeville. (CreateSpace, $17.95)
More than a Princess
by Shaista Pabla
illustrated by Drew Maunula
Maya knows what’s expected of her: look pretty and marry a rich prince. But when the princes come courting with promises of diamonds and enchanted castles, they quickly learn Maya is more than a princess. With a mind of her own and a yearning for adventure, she is a firm believer in creating her own happily ever after.
Shaista Pabla’s charming tale of an assertive princess bucking societal rules is a wonderful example for little girls everywhere. Pabla works as an ER nurse and lives in Mono. (Upon A Star Books, $19.95)
by Harry Posner
In a single moment unmoored from the concept of time, Percy Barnum Thurman is perpetually driving up a hill. Crowding this shape-shifting moment of before and after, being and nonbeing, are fragmented flashes of a man unsure of his place in the world.
Harry Posner, Dufferin County’s inaugural poet laureate, delivers a trippy, mind-bending look at the unfiltered confusion raging inside an ordinary man. Posner’s previous titles focus on poetry, prose and audio-craft and include Wordbirds, Auroch Unbound and In the Event of True Happiness. He lives in Orangeville. (Harry Posner, $14.95)
written and illustrated by Nancy Guild Bendall
“Somewhere deep beneath the massive root system of our northern Canadian forest lies the continent of Nethermost, floating on a pool of liquid gold.” Eighteen-year-old Cait O’Quinn, lonely and unaware of the hidden land, must help save it from ecological ruin. Question: Is she ready to leave the safety of isolation to become the heroine she needs to be?
More than 30 paintings, portraits and sketches bring to life this fairytale-inspired novel for teens. Alton’s Nancy Guild Bendall’s first novel was The Nights and Times of Ned Cleary. (Meade House Press, $20.25)
The Brush Dances
by Roslyn Levin, SCA
Artist Roslyn Levin describes the ancient Japanese art form of sumi-e as a technique that “uses the brush as an extension of the spirit and body of the artist, and incorporates movement and breathing to create brushstrokes of great strength.” In this easy-to-follow guide, readers are introduced to the tools and foundational brushstrokes they need to get started on their own works of art.
Roslyn Levin, a Shelburne resident, is an instructor of sumi-e and shodo (Japanese calligraphy). She works from her studio in Dragonfly Arts on Broadway in Orangeville and received the Dufferin Arts Council’s Reed T. Cooper Bursary, which enabled her to produce this book. (Trimatrix Management Consulting, $25)
Buster Bartholomew Benjamin Brown and the Schoolyard Bully
by Anna Pierri
illustrated by Steve Slawich
Anna Pierri of Caledon incorporated her own publishing company to issue a series of message-based children’s picture books. The first to print features Buster Bartholomew Benjamin Brown protecting his best friend, the bespectacled Just Billy, from Rocky Ratnick, the schoolyard bully. Buster soon learns that violence doesn’t stop violence and he must use his reasoning skills instead of his fists. The bouncy rhymes and colourful illustrations are sure to please the primary set. (Ruby Two Shoes, $12.95)
That’s the Spirit!
The Lighter Side of Life in Wartime Britain
by Derek French
Derek French was six years old when World War II started. From his family’s farm, located about 40 kilometres southeast of London and directly beneath the route used by Luftwaffe bombers on their way to attack their London targets, the young boy witnessed much of the aerial combat in the Battle of Britain. For a child his age, without the understanding of the horrors occurring elsewhere, the war was an adventure. The stories French recollects are both amusing and poignant, from trading shrapnel with his buddies and fishing for eels with his father to the awe of D-Day and watching the skies darken as waves of Allied planes flew to their destinations across the English Channel.
Derek French, a longtime Mono resident, now lives in Toronto. (Derek French, $19.95)
Home for Health
Creating a Sanctuary for Healing
by Hilton Tudhope
For anyone with a compromised immune system, the average home is a nightmare of chemical off-gassing and electromagnetic fields. When Hilton Tudhope’s wife, Barbara, couldn’t shake the asthma-like symptoms, headaches and brain fog resulting from the contaminants in their residence and environment in California, they determined to build a house she could live in. Home for Health describes the process and materials used to construct their beautiful, nontoxic home in Mulmur. (Build for Health Press, $19.95)
The Long Road Home
by Liz Jansen
Three weeks into a planned 12- to 18-month solo motorcycling trip through the Americas, Liz Jansen crashed on a patch of bad road, wrecking her shoulder and her bike. Two years of recovery later, she faced down her fears and set out to retrace the footsteps of her Russian Mennonite ancestors. Crash Landing is much more than a memoir; it’s a spiritual guide to healing through connecting with the energy of the land and listening to the wisdom of those who have travelled before us.
Liz Jansen of Orangeville is a writer, motivational speaker, consultant and outspoken advocate for female motorcyclists. She is also the author of Women, Motorcycles and the Road to Empowerment. (Trillium Wordworks, $19.95)
I Am Me
The Orangeville Novel 2
by Leslie G. Sabo
The continuing saga of Rodger Blackwell sees our hero walking away from his 10-year marriage and starting a new life on his own. Will he finally find his place in the world? With the help of an ailing friend and a deeper understanding of his own faith, he just might succeed.
Leslie Sabo of Orangeville is the owner of Summit Books. His first book featuring Rodger Blackwell was I Am Not Me: The Orangeville Novel. (Summit Books, $28.95)
Parrots: The Flock among Us
Unlikely Heroes and Improbable Means
by John Steckley
In Parrots: The Flock among Us, John Steckley answers frequently asked questions about parrots, and describes the chaos and comedy of living with a flock of his favourite avians in his living room. Bird poop, big personalities, fights and hurt feelings – it’s parrot drama galore! (Rock’s Mills Press, $15)
An eccentric cast of characters and old-fashioned mysteries make for lively reading in Unlikely Heroes and Improbable Means, a collection of connected short stories.
John Steckley of Bolton taught at Humber College for more than 30 years. He has authored many books on sociology, anthropology and Aboriginal studies. (Tellwell Talent, $15)
Our Home and Inventive Land!
by Mark Rector
The scuba tank. The snowmobile. The televised instant replay. SPAR Aerospace’s Canadarm. Alexander Graham Bell’s life work. These are just a few of the inventions, innovators and firsts in this highly readable compendium of Canadian ingenuity.
Mark Rector is a professor of electronic engineering. A longtime resident of Orangeville, he recently moved to Georgetown. (KKP Canada, $24.99)
by Don Hayward
Toronto is under attack! Pandemonium reigns as a militant environmental movement headed by the shadowy figure of Sherwood Green sets a series of spectacular fires and dramatic explosions. Jos Amiel, a reporter for a second-rate news program, may be the only one who can save the city.
Former Dufferin County resident Don Hayward now lives in Goderich. His previous titles include Murder on the Goderich Local and After the Last Day. (Don Hayward, $14.95)
Living with Autism
by Mirian T. Sansalone
“I cannot remember life before Plan B, life before autism,” says Mirian Sansalone of Caledon. All Sansalone’s girlhood expectations of what family life would be like expired the moment the doctor diagnosed her two eldest sons with autism. Attempting to meet the needs of two nonverbal sons, as well as two younger children, is a task harder than most people can imagine. But with an abundance of grit, love and connection to her faith, the author has found joy and meaning in the life she has been given. (Mirian Sansalone, $15.95)
Words From Between Dusty Spaces & Hidden Places of My Mind
Leaves O’er Weathered Stones
by Winston F. Uytenbogaart
A race across the border for the birth of a child. Friendship. Nature’s beauty. Life-saving surgery. A beloved songwriter’s passing. A dark day at Kent State University in the 1960s. Orangeville resident Winston Uytenbogaart’s chapbooks of poetry are lyrical snapshots of experiences from a life well lived. (Amaranth Press, $12 each)
Little Green Frog
by Marnie Worry
illustrated by Sharon Pahalan
Marnie Worry teams up with Sharon Pahalan to bring us this charming children’s picture book about a boy who longs for a dog but ends up with a bullfrog instead. Included in the book is a CD of the song “Little Green Frog.”
Marnie Worry of Orangeville is a retired early childhood education teacher and a singer-songwriter. Her first children’s book was I’d Rather Be Me. Sharon Pahalan is a self-taught artist who lives in Caledon. (Marnie Worry, $9.99)
Musings of a Medical Dinosaur
Who we are, how we got here, and where we are going
by J. Barry Engelhardt
Longtime Orangeville family doctor J. Barry Engelhardt travels all the way back to the Big Bang to explore the intriguing paradoxes of human nature. In studying how people handle fear, pain (both physical and mental) and the eventuality of our own death, he hopes to enlighten readers on how to better understand ourselves, our lives and our world while, hopefully, finding a way forward to a bright future.
Barry Engelhardt now lives in the Ottawa region. (J. Barry Engelhardt, $21.99)
The Tequila Promise
by John MacGougan
Orangeville (renamed Poet’s Walk by the author) takes centre stage as the locale for John MacGougan’s taut thriller featuring a billionaire businessman, murderous bikers, two-bit criminals and a restaurateur-personal investigator, who has a very personal stake in uncovering a killer.
Longtime Orangeville resident John MacGougan now lives in Niagara-on-the-Lake. (Tellwell Talent, $27.50)
Tapping for Sap + Into Town
by Carolyn j Morris
illustrated by Richard McNaughton
Chick and Duckling are off on adventures once again! In Tapping For Sap, the two friends follow the first plink-plunk of sap collected in buckets to the delicious end result of a maple syrup-soaked stack of pancakes. Into Town sees the pair exploring the village of Turnip Town and interacting with all their friendly neighbours.
Beeton resident Carolyn j Morris is a retired teacher and the author of the Spruce Valley novels. Richard McNaughton’s watercolour illustrations perfectly capture the gentle themes of Chick and Duckling’s adventures. He lives in Grey County. (Railfence Books, $12.95 each)
In This Moment of Freedom
Poetic Reflection Volume 1
by Natalie Merritt-Broderick
Natalie Merritt-Broderick’s butterfly-adorned, nature-infused poetry reflects on the concepts of beauty, free will, pain and simple moments of joy. She lives in Melancthon, where, she says, “Inspiration runs wild and sunsets are a sight to behold.” (Natalie Merritt-Broderick, $20.99)
The Owl and the Prince of Peace
Selections from Our Diary
by A. Anne Bel
In diary format, Erin resident A. Anne Bel ruminates on personal, political and environmental issues through the lens of her Christian faith. Gratitude and prayer fuel each excerpt. (WestBow Press, $37.50)
Unearth Your Intuition
by Jennifer Abra
Spiritual medium Jennifer Abra urges readers to tap into the wellspring of innate intuition lying dormant in all of us to create a richer and more spiritual life.
Jennifer Abra lives in Shelburne. (10-10-10 Publishing, $24.99)